52 postcards - week 37, Le pique-nique

Travel anywhere in France and you will see the French indulging in le pique-nique. Eating en plein air, be it stopping at one of the many un-serviced aires on the autoroutes, or during a day out in the countryside, is taken seriously and treated with great reverence. No pre-made sandwiches and canned drinks grabbed from the supermarket or service station here. Food is often homemade or sourced from boulangeries, charcuteries or from one of the many weekly markets found throughout France. Bottles are uncorked and wine is shared and enjoyed.

It’s not just the food and drink that are treated with great care. The furniture is also well considered. For the truly alfresco dining experience, the familiar blue folding table with integral benches is often deployed. Many of the French villages and communes that I’ve visited, provide picnic tables, often in the most idyllic settings. These are well-tended and well considered with natural shade provided by trees and bushes.

On a day in the Pyrenées at Lac d’Estaing, I came across the group setting up their picnic with huge care and attention. The blue folding table with chairs and umbrella where moved at least four times until the optimum location was found. Mountains of food and drink was carefully taken out of the ubiquitous blue freezer box and arranged on the table. Finally, when everything was just so, the four sat down to enjoy their meal. And what a location.; it couldn’t have been much better. The majestic backdrop of the mountains, a stream and the tinkle of cow bells. Eating en plein air at its best and most French.

Week 37’s recipient is once again my friend Moni Smith from Oregon. Moni and I have been part of a monthly yearlong postcard exchange and we’ve now been drawn randomly as partners for the third time! Moni is a talented photographer, specialising in film and pinhole; you can find her work here.

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